Breast Cancer Campaign welcomes good news for women at high risk of breast cancer

15 January 2013

Women in England at high risk of breast cancer could be offered drugs as preventative treatment for the first time, according to new clinical guidelines on familial breast cancer released for consultation today by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). Familial breast cancer relates to women with a significant family history of breast, ovarian or a related cancer who may be at increased risk of the disease as a result of their genetic make-up.

The draft guidelines, published for consultation today (Tuesday 15 January 2013) will be reviewed over the next six weeks with NICE working with breast cancer patients to ensure the final recommendations best represent them and have the biggest positive impact on their quality of life, suggest new recommendations relating to genetic testing, monitoring and the use of preventative treatments. 

‘Chemoprevention’ is recommended, for the first time, as a prevention option for women with a high risk of developing breast cancer; using existing breast cancer drugs tamoxifen or raloxifene. A decision on taking chemopreventative drugs would be made after women have had a full discussion on the risks and benefits with specialist healthcare professionals. Breast Cancer Campaign welcomes the recommendation as a major step forward for a group of women who have more than twice the average lifetime risk of breast cancer.

It also welcomes a new recommendation to make it easier for women with a family history of breast cancer to access genetic testing and for the first time the new guidelines cover people who have previously been diagnosed with breast cancer. Until now women who have a higher risk would not be able to be tested unless a person with breast cancer in their family had been tested first. The proposals suggest this changes and this will support women to understand the extent of their risk and has implications for monitoring and surveillance

Baroness Delyth Morgan, Breast Cancer Campaign’s  Chief Executive, said: “We’re really pleased to see these guidelines include new recommendations which could really benefit women at high risk of breast cancer. The biggest changes are preventative drug treatments for breast cancer being considered for the first time and wider access to genetic testing which could bring about earlier diagnoses. We look forward to understanding the full details behind the draft guidelines in the coming weeks and ensuring the final recommendations will best support women with breast cancer and have a positive impact on their quality of life.”

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